I have researched various translations of 1 Clement 30:5 and would be thankful if anyone could expound what is meant by:

"Blessed is the offspring of a woman that liveth but a short time. Be not thou abundant in words."

*alternate translation:

"Doth he that is born of woman and liveth but for a short time think himself to be blessed? Be not abundant in speech."

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  • One can never know the intention of an author. They may have efficiently expressed what they thought within themselves or they may have inaccurately conveyed their concept through bad choice of vocabulary or poor subtlety of grammar. One can only say (through an hermeneutic process) what an author has written. To ask of the intention of an author is to invite an opinion. Accuracy of translation is another matter and it would be helpful if you could supply the original text (in Latin ?) of the two translations to which you refer. – Nigel J Jul 21 at 8:52
  • Cross-post from Hermeneutics.SE. – Lucian Jul 21 at 9:33
  • @NigelJ: See authorial intent. – Lucian Jul 21 at 13:37
  • 1
    @Lucian As your linked article states, the opposing view is intentional fallacy. – Nigel J Jul 21 at 16:04

The authorial intent, as suggested by the verse's surrounding context, seems to be that of instilling Christ-like meekness and humility (Matthew 11:29) in the hearts of boastful people:

1 Clement 30 For God, he saith, resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Let us clothe ourselves with concord, being humble, temperate, keeping ourselves far from all whispering and evil speaking, justified by our deeds, and not by our words. For he saith, He who saith many things shall, in return, hear many things. Doth he that is eloquent think himself to be just ? Doth he that is born of woman and liveth but for a short time think himself to be blessed? Be not abundant in speech. Let our praise be in God, and not for ourselves, for God hateth the self-praisers. Let the testimony of right actions be given us from others, even as it was given to our fathers who were just. Audacity, self-will, and boldness belong to them who are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness, to them that are blessed of God.


Doth he that is born of woman and liveth but for a short time think himself to be blessed ?

serves as a stern reminder of our own mortality; if we perish like flies (Isaiah 40:6), then what exactly is there to be boastful of in the first place ?

As for

Be not abundant in speech.

the context, as noted above, points to this as referring to self-congratulatory or self-praising speech.

There is also a stylistic note to be added, in that the ancient Christian author is somewhat ironically contrasting the brevity of human life, with the length of the self-adulatory tirades in which people characterized by such self-centered tendencies quite often indulge in.

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